Saturday, 27 October 2012

Runners, I Covet Thee...

Have you been running?  Maybe you've just run a marathon?  Or you just love getting outside and running--just because?  I'm envious of you.

Sure, I run, too.


At 5 am and in the dark.

But I haven't been keeping up with it.  Or lifting weights.  Or much of anything at all.  And all this NOT working out is stressing me out.  Because I feel guilty that I'm just not doing enough of....anything.  I really feel like I should buy me some kettle bells   But who am I kidding?  I hate working out in my basement.  I hate staring at the walls while I do the same thing over and over and over.  I've said it before; I have a VERY short attention span.  So the kettle bells idea, while good for someone else, for me is just an excuse to not work out some more, because I don't have any, and I'd have to go shopping for some instead of just working out, right?

So they say too much running is bad for you now.  Well, not running enough is bad for you too, you know, because if I went out and tried to run a marathon tomorrow, I WOULD JUST DIE.  So there, marathons can kill.  Exercise can kill.  I should just stay home and sit very still so that I remain safe....  Oh, that's my inner lazy speaking, and it's done too much of the talking lately and for totally stupid reasons, I seem to have been listening.  The really lazy part of my brain was secretly wishing I had some kind of adrenal issue going on, so I could blame all this non-exercise on something.  Yea, I can see right through that excuse, too.

These excuses weren't getting me anywhere I wanted to be.

So I took to my closet to think this one out.  Hey, I have a big closet.  It's perfect for thinking in.  And as I hunkered down with a handful of forbidden ju jubes, it dawned on me.  Whaaat?  You don't hunker down in a closet with ju jubes for thinking?  Don't judge me.  It's perfectly normal in my house.  My daughter says so.  She consoled me after I ate the ju jubes, saying, "Don't worry mom, I've sat in your closet and eaten ju jubes, too."  She has a lifetime history of hunkering down in closets.  That's just her thing.  And that IS where I hid the ju jubes that the orthodontist gave me.  Isn't that where bad food belongs?  In your bedroom closet behind the fancy shoes and sewing kit?  Huh.  Well, that's where I hide mine so if you ever want to rob me, the ju jubes are in the closet, ok?  Funny thing is, I hate candy.  Really, I do.  So that's how much this new level of sloth was bothering me.  Or how hungry I was when I entered the closet.  You decide.  Either way, the ju jubes are almost gone.  Maybe I shouldn't think so hard when I'm hormonal.  Don't worry.  I don't actually like candy enough to want to buy any more. Sh!t happens.  I shouldn't have them in my house, and yet can't work up the nerve to throw them out.

So I had to take matters into my own hands on the exercise issue and change something.  This non-exercise state just wasn't working for me.

So I broke down and I called a running club.  Yea, I did it.  Excessive cardio-schmardio.  I have to DO enough cardio before it can actually be called EXCESSIVE.  I'm hoping the social atmosphere will get me hooked.  I am a social creature, after all.  The best part is that I get to bring my dog.  That'll be fun until - squirrel! - No, seriously, the dogs are trained to run with me.  We've done that plenty of times, maybe hundreds of times.  Combined, the two dogs outweigh me, but they know better.  My shepherd has pretty dysplastic hips, so anything over 5km is out of the question for her.  She'll be pretty pissed to be left behind, though.

Know what's really sad?  I've run so little over the summer that I'm struggling to do a continuous 5km run.  I sound like a big ole' asthma attack.  So I have to run with the "No One Gets Left Behind" crowd.  Yea.  Beginning Running 101 all over again.  It's more than a little embarrassing.  But anything is better than nothing, and we all have to start somewhere.  So I'm starting HERE.

Beware--this is how us slower runners see the rest you...
Do you ever get tired of your workout routine and need a change?  I tend to change things up every few months.  I just get bored.  Now, with winter coming, running is about the only thing I'll be able to do outside on a regular basis.  Running in -20 is a whole different animal and if I'm going to get outside then, I have to start working on it now.

I've run with the running group from Running Free a couple of times now--and yup, I'm hooked.  On my second run, I explained to the instructor that I was working my way up to running with the 7-km group, so he said to me, "I'll let you set the pace, then" and without saying so, he turned my 5km beginner run into an almost 6km non-stop run because I wasn't complaining.  So, yea, group running WORKS!  There's something about having a group of witnesses that pushes you to go further and faster than you would on your own.  So who knows?  Maybe one day I will be a marathoner.  But not this winter.  I just want to get back to a place where I can call myself a runner without snickering, and without ju jubes.  (Don't worry, I'm off them now).

What do you do to alleviate the boredom of exercising?  Are you a social exerciser, or a loner?  Let me know!  I love comments.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The View from Up Here

Just a fun post today.  Sorry, no food on this one at all!

So last weekend, I tried something I hadn't done before, but I've wanted to try for a very long time.....  Treetop Trekking.

I organized this trip for the GTA Paleo Meetup Group I help run.  I wanted there to be, like, 20 of us up there, but only 3 of us actually went.  I don't know why people are so shy about getting outside for some fun time.  We never seem to have a big turnout for the fun outdoorsy stuff, but if it's a seminar?  Bang, 20 people.  Weird.  I'd take outdoors over science any day.  I guess that's just me.  In the beginning, I probably would have sought out a lot of the science as well.  Heck, I DID seek out every last drop of science and I still do.  But some stuff is just meant to be fun, you know?

And this was really fun.

The advertising for these places goes like this, "Based on Navy Seal Training Courses..."  Well, I'm no Navy Seal.  Hell, I'm only MODERATELY fit, too.  I'm no crossfit deadlift champion.  But I completed the whole course from beginner to advanced.  It freakin' rocked.  You climb up a ladder (or a set of ladders) to platforms high up in the treetops and there are obstacle-styled bridges that you have to cross to get to the next platform.  There are several zip lines throughout the course.  You don't get to come down from the treetops until you finish that segment or series of obstacles.  Don't worry, you're safely strapped in the whole time by- not one, but two,- safety contacts.  You get a little tutorial at the outset, where you learn how to use the safety contacts.  You can just barely see the giant safety-lock carabiners at my hip in the first picture.  If you look closely at each picture, you can see the safety wire right around my head-height in every shot.  But once you get through the tutorial, you're pretty much on your own.  It's up to you to apply the safety techniques on your honour and if you're spotted not using them properly, you're thrown off the course.

So this is my picture tour of that day....

Good lord, those are ugly helmets.  We're too excited to care, though.
They harness you up really safely, don't worry about that.  You're wearing a climbing harness, first of all, then  a shoulder harness, which they cinch up nice and tight until your boobs are all mashed, then cinch the two together with the biggest carabiner  you've ever seen.
I'm grinning like an idiot; having a blast.  
I apologise for the slightly gritty pics--it was really overcast on Sunday, I was using a blackberry cell phone camera and no one thought to change the phone settings to low light....  My bad.
Steve on one of the last obstacles
This bridge was crazy-long, and the safety rope was intentionally really slack, so if you lost your balance you REALLY felt like you were falling way off before it caught you.  The wind through the valley added a certain element....  There were moments where I, the sh!t disturber, felt the need to hop back on the obstacle and start bouncing like a lunatic.  Fortunately for Steve, I did not do that here.

My friend Glenn, demonstrating how you can do it all wrong
Another advanced obstacle, logs all canted at weird angles and crazy-slack safety wire.  He's having the time of his life, I swear.
Still grinning like an idiot.  This obstacle had no platforms.  Just rope.

Sometimes the hardest part is just not getting tangled in the ropes and lines and not catching your anchors on the ropes.

This is how zip-lining is SUPPOSED to look.

This is how I look.  Yea, I know, graceful as a pygmie hippo on a  trampoline.
The best obstacle was a tarzan rope on a sliding cable that you swung across and landed face-first like spiderman on a cargo net wall and then had to climb over to the platform while the Tarzan rope glided back away, trying to pull you back off.  I stuck the landing, but had all the grace of that hippo, once again.  Almost peed my pants watching everyone else slaughter it as well.  Made me feel a lot better.

There doesn't seem to be a limit on how many times you can do the course, except the time it takes--it took us about 3 hours to get through it once.  I could feel it in my core by the end.  I would have gone back and done it again anyways, but it was getting dark and they were trying to close the place down for the night.

This is a new course east of Oshawa, less than a 1/2 hour from my house.  It just opened up this summer.  I hear that next year they're going to build a "black level" course.  Do it.  Please do.  I'll be back there.

Do you have a Paleo Meetup Group in your area?  Seriously, check into it.    It's a great place to meet other paleo peeps in your area, or just to find like-minded people to hang out with.  For our Toronto/GTA Paleo Meetup Group, we try to do a bunch of things; fun outings, paleo education, support, buying groups and potlucks to meet and greet.  We're working on launching a few value-added-types of things, as well, so keep an eye on us because we're growing and changing every day!

Friday, 19 October 2012


I've been experimenting with a little book called Real Food Fermentation lately.  (Get it/check it out here)  The book is an easy read--only half of it is recipes, the other half is just beautiful glossy photos, ideas, and thoughts on fermentation.

Know what the problem is with lacto-fermentation?  You need to store the stuff in your fridge once its done fermenting (unless you have a cold cellar, which I do not).  Know what makes up  for that issue?  Being able to make fermented foods ONE JAR AT A TIME.  I can make a SINGLE JAR of pickles, sauerkraut, relish, or ketchup.  I can keep all of my ferments corralled on one shelf of my fridge.  

So I devoured the book in one day of reading.  And then I decided that I had to take a step back and  start over with sauerkraut.  It is the easiest thing to ferment out there.  Once you start, you will never be without raw, fermented sauerkraut in your house again.  Really.  No need for one of those expensive fermenting crocks.  No need for fancy equipment (though there are some things out there that would be helpful, they are not NECESSARY--just helpful)

I took:

2 lbs cabbage, shredded
4 tsp fine sea salt
filtered water
a 1qt mason jar
a bowl for mixing

Seriously, that was it.  I shredded the cabbage and stuck it in a huge bowl, salted it, and kind of massaged it for a while to make the salt disperse and the juices start to flow.  You need to wring it out, literally, squeeze the water out of it a few times.

Then I packed it all into a litre-sized mason jar (packed doesn't quite sum it up--I jammed that jar full to within an ounce of its life) and after it sat that way for a couple of hours, I topped up the stuff with filtered water until it was covered, and left 1" of air space at the top, sealed it up tight and set it aside.

That's when the fun really began.

I "burped" the jar every day.  It foamed, bubbled and fizzed.  It sprayed like a dropped jug of pop every time I cracked it open.  This went on for several days.  Eventually the fizzing slowed to the point where I could safely stick it in the fridge (for me, this takes 5-6 days, but if you want it really sour, let it go a few days longer--just taste it daily to see how it's doing).  You may need to top it up with more water now and then since the fizzy tends to spray the water out of the jar at first.  Or get yourself an airlock jar so that doesn't happen if you find you really like sauerkraut and want to make it over and over.  More on that some other time.

That was it.  It was that easy.  All it needs is time.  Nothing more.  Its done when it reaches the desired level of softness and sourness for your personal tastes.  The bottle will be so stuffed full that you won't fell like you're able to make much of a dent in it even with daily consumption.  I like mine still a little bit crunchy, but no longer tasting like raw cabbage.

It's done.  No active bacteria required, no whey, no live cultures.  Just have to massage some shredded cabbage.  No, I'm not being rude.  Seriously.  You gotta get close with your cabbage.  It'll thank you later.

Now, with that under your belt, its time to move onto pickles, don't you think?

Mmmm, pickles..........

Monday, 15 October 2012

Lemon Tart

Lena, this one is for you...

I took a leap of faith.  I was pretty sure that lemon curd and my new "tastes like shortbread cookie" pastry would marry together perfectly.  And they did.  Cue the food-gasm face.  We all made it.  And then we went back for seconds.

Lemon curd, it turns out, is probably one of the easiest desserts you will ever make.  Really, it is.  You don't HAVE to put it in a pie shell.  If you like make-work projects, you could make single-serving tart shells, but I'm not into that kind of labour.  Or, you could just serve lemon curd over plain full-fat yogurt, if you eat dairy.  Or coconut milk yogurt if you don't.  I LOVE it in plain yogurt.  You could serve it over some kind of paleo-ified cheesecake or raw vegan cheesecake for those of you who don't eat dairy/cream cheese (I can't touch the stuff--kills me every time).  The lemon curd would go fabulously on a number of things.  It could go over vanilla ice cream, if you wanted it to.    Can you imagine it if you mixed a bunch of shaved coconut into the crust so it made some kind of lemon-coconut square?  Yea, you're welcome.

So here's how simple it really is....  (You will recognize it's the same crust as the berry tart)


Tart Shell:

3/4 c almond meal
1/3 c coconut flour
1/3 c tapioca starch
1/4 c butter, at room temperature
1 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Lemon Curd:

1/3 c honey
1/3 c butter
2 eggs + 3 egg yolks
pinch salt
2/3 c lemon juice

For the crust; heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together, form into a ball and move to a pie plate.  Press dough down onto pie plate and up 1/2 of the sides.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Move to cooling rack and let cool.  It will not turn golden or puff up or anything.  Just trust that it's done.  Don't overcook it.

For the filling:  Using an electric mixer, combine the butter, eggs, salt and honey until smooth.  Add lemon juice.  Don't worry if it curdles a tiny bit at this point.  It'll sort itself out when you heat it.  Heat the mixture over a double boiler, whisking constantly, until it thickens enough to coat spoon (3-5 minutes).  Pour it into your prepared pie shell and refrigerate until cooled and firm (about 2 hours).

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Squash Gnocchi (and Brown Butter Sage Sauce)

Think you gave up gnocchi when you went paleo?  Think again.  Once you let go of the fear of recipe failure, you start to experiment alittle with your food.  A couple of food successes later, you just branch out into all kinds of crazy food fun.

Is that my inner foodie speaking?

I love to create things.  I love to try to do what I thought would not be possible, or at least, I thought that at the BEGINNING of my paleo journey.  These days, there's no holding me back.  There are no limits on what I will cook, or try to cook, just limits on the ingredients I can use.  I'm pretty sure that given the time, I could create a totally paleo-acceptable pasta that has the texture of real pasta.  I know, why would I want to, right?  Aren't we supposed to be getting away from neolithic foodstuffs and back to how we would have eaten waaay back when?  Yes.  And no.

You see, we're living in a neolithic food world.  We're surrounded every day by fake foods and fast foods that are completely unhealthy, but those are the foods we were raised on, that our taste buds developed to love even if they were killing us all slowly.  Sometimes, not all the time, we need to taste those foods again.  Sometimes we need to eat foods that taste like the foods of our childhood, but wouldn't it be better if we could have all those flavours that we knew and loved--without all the pain and the bad stuff?  What is the harm in trying to recreate those favorite neolithic foods with only primally-acceptable ingredients?  I can only speak for myself, but having paleo-versions of all the foods of my childhood is what allows me to eat this way, and never for a minute miss the old way I used to eat.  It reduces my "cheat" meals and snacks.  It is the taste of familiar--but now made healthy--that keeps me here.

So tonight, that comfort food was gnocchi.

Ever had home made gnocchi?  What about pumpkin/squash pasta with brown butter and sage?  No?  Its time to try it (the paleo version, not the actual gut-hurting pasta on store shelves)!!

Ok, so traditional gnocchi is most often boiled.  Why is it that when you boil potatoes and flour, its gnocchi, but when you bake potatoes with flour, its a tater tot?  These did NOT taste like tater tots.  But they did taste better baked.  It's perfectly ok to boil them, they come out just like traditional gnocchi, but baking helps dry them out just enough to add a bit of....texture, and to keep the butter sauce from being absorbed and disappearing.  It's your choice.  I did try it both ways.  I definitely prefer baking.  These little gems are soft and mellow no matter how much you man-handle them (which is a good thing; man-handled traditional gnocchi can be rubbery or dry).

Makes 4-5 generous and filling servings


  • 1 1/2 lb squash, boiled, drained and mashed (and cooled)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c coconut flour
  • 3/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 c almond meal (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus 2 Tbs for sauce
  • 1/3 - 1/2 c butter

Mix squash, eggs, flours, salt and 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage in a bowl.  Start by adding only 1/2 c each of tapioca and coconut to the squash.  I didn't drain mine very well, and wet squash meant more flours.  The almond flour is simply for texture and isn't totally necessary, but adds a nice density to the mixture.  

The mixture will still be soft and wet, but you should be able to delicately roll it out on the counter without it completely sticking to your hands.  If it does stick like crazy, add a bit more coconut and tapioca flour.  

Form into balls, then roll out into long, skinny logs.  Using a butter knife, cut into 1" lengths.  You can put these cut pieces directly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or you can do the traditional thumbprint in the back and fork mark on the top.  This is only for aesthetics and won't affect baking time or texture.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  The gnocchi won't grow during the cooking process, so fit them as tightly as you can onto a baking sheet without letting them actually touch.  I managed to squeeze them all onto one baking sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  I gave mine a full 15 minutes and they were dry to the touch, but not browning or crisp.  Just....firm.   

While your gnocchi are in the oven, make your sauce.  Over medium heat, melt butter and the rest of the chopped sage leaves.  Butter will boil a bit, and as soon as it is boiling and foaming, remove from heat and cover.  

Serve the butter sauce over the gnocchi.

Try it with sausages--I really liked these ones at Paleo Magazine online.  

Just a thought--what would these taste like if you made them out of pumpkin and replaced the sage with pumpkin pie spice, and when you were simmering the butter, what if you added a bit of maple syrup or honey?  Would you have pumpkin dumplings with caramel sauce?  I do believe so.  Think about it.....

Friday, 12 October 2012

Berry Custard Cookie Tart?? It's just Delicious, now Eat it!

So with Thanksgiving coming, I wanted to make a paleo-friendly dessert--and one that didn't involve pumpkin (my daughter hates pumpkin pie--gasp!!  I know, eh?).  The challenge was on to make something....different....something that I hadn't seen done to death yet in the paleo-sphere.  I also have had this deep desire lately to make some food with real Canadian content.  But how does one define Canadian cuisine?  Yea, I couldn't define it clearly, either.  It has a lot of British influence, and French influences, but it's also multicultural.  Poutine and butter tarts.  Those are our claims to fame.

But I swear to you, that's not all that is quintessential Canadian.

I was at a local farmers market a week or so ago, and this wasn't an ordinary market; these foods were all frozen and packaged.  No, not the evil "packaging" that we eschew.  Frozen fruits and veggies and stuff like that.  So I picked up real boysenberries.  Who knew they were a real berry and not some flavour blend you can buy at M&M meats?  And I bought black currants, and sour cherries, and service berries.   Yes, service berries.  AKA Saskatoon berries.  AKA June-berries.  I really wanted to cook something really interesting with them.

So my original idea was a french tart, but then I wanted to make a lemon curd tart, but wasn't sure if the berries would be too much to add on top of that.  In the end, I made something in between the two.

I was looking at recipes that all seemed to use almond flour for the pastry.  I love almond flour, but its pretty expensive stuff.  So I wondered what would happen if I blended in coconut flour, and then tapioca flour.  The coconut flour would dry it out.  The tapioca would make it more flexible.  And a drop of honey would make it sweet.  This is how it all ended up...

Don't let the amount of ingredients scare you.  Its not so hard.  Trust me; if I can do this off the top of my head, you can do this, too.

This actually took 2 tries to get it right; turns out Saskatoon berries don't have much flavour at all, so I needed to add another fruit to make them taste... more interesting.  So try this with whatever fruit you have on hand. I highly recommend pure sour cherries.  Because I love, love, love them.  Unfortunately, this recipe tastes like spring to me, not fall.  But hey,  not everyone divides their desserts into seasons like I do....


For the Berries:

  • 1 1/2 c berries (I used 1 c sour cherries and 1/2 c Saskatoon berries) 
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 Tbs tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
For the Cookie Crust:
  • 3/4 c almond meal
  • 1/3 c coconut flour
  • 1/3 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 c butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
For the Custard:
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 T coconut sugar, raw cane sugar, or honey
  • 1/4 1/2 c lemon juice
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 pkt unflavoured gelatin
Start with your berries; bring berries/cherries and water to a boil and simmer for several minutes.  Once tender, stir in honey, then mix lemon juice and tapioca together to dissolve and stir into berries  to thicken.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Not so bad yet, huh?

Ok, onto the crust.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix all ingredients together, form into a ball, then place ball in a 9" pie plate and press dough down, flattening all over pie plate and up sides of plate.  Bake crust for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set on cooling rack.  Still not bad, huh?

Now for the custard.  Ever use a double-boiler?  I find it works best for custards.  If you don't have one, set a metal pan in a larger pot.  Dissolve the gelatin in 2 Tbs cold water and set aside.  Mix your egg yolks, coconut milk, sweetener, lemon juice and melted butter in the pot, and heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and thoroughly whisk in the gelatin, making sure to break up all the lumps.  Pour your custard over the cookie crust gently, and then stick it in the fridge for about an hour.   

The gelatin should be halfway set at this point.  Drop berry mixture into custard by the spoonful.  Return it to the fridge until its completely set; about another hour.


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Comforting Sweet Potato Soup

It's that time of year again--the weather has taken a sudden turn and its just plain cold outside.  Now, for all of you non-Canadians, this past weekend was our Thanksgiving.  Don't ask me why we celebrate on a different weekend from Americans, I don't actually know the answer.  Because we like to be different difficult?

Anywhoo, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for 16 15 people and agreed to provide the turkey, real stuffing, sweet potato casserole (a la Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook) and a (paleo) dessert.  (We do potluck, so the rest of the food came from other family members).  Despite our paleo stance, we do provide non-paleo foods for our non-paleo family members on the holidays, and just don't eat it ourselves (oh, who am I kidding, while I didn't eat it, my husband and both kids shovelled it in with abject glee).   So that was Sunday night.  We ate like horses until very late into the evening, we drank a lot of wine (7 bottles, 9 adults....hmmm) and by the time Monday rolled around, I was just......exhausted.  Maybe it was all the cooking and cleaning from Thanksgiving, but more likely it was the hike I did on Saturday--15 km, took over 3 hours, over extremely rugged terrain, and the migraine that followed all day Sunday and rolled into Monday (not that it kept me from my precious wine--stupid move on my part).

When I woke up Monday morning the house was FREEZING; I hadn't gotten around to turning the heat on yet in my house.  I'm just feeling el-cheapo lately--because I'm broke, mostly...  but also because there's a voice in my head that's saying, "You're Canadian, damn it, you can take this cold!  This is nothing!  Don't be such a wuss!  Just wait until January!"  And the other voice in my head just starts to cry at the thought of January.

So I spent a very cold day in my house, tired, headachy, and just hibernating and recovering.  In socks, slippers, two tops and still snuggled under blankets (and obviously pants--I'm not a weirdo), I spent the better part of the day catching up on things I'd recorded on the PVR.  But I did rouse myself long enough to make lunch, at least.  I knew I had leftover turkey and gravy--but what to cook with it?  I wanted a warm bowl of comfort.  We'd eaten all of the sweet potato casserole the night before.  There's never enough of that leftover (thank you Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook, you're fabulous)

So, with sweet potato casserole on the brain, this is what I cooked up....  And I must say, topped with pumpkin pie spices and chopped pecans, it was total comfort, dessert in a soup bowl, and happiness all wrapped up together.  Aren't sweet potatoes just delicious?

So here it is.

Serves 3


  • 1 large sweet potato (about a lb)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp gresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or fat from top of coconut milk can

Peel and cube sweet potatoes.  Add potatoes and broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the sweet potatoes are falling apart tender.  Puree sweet potatoes, adding the broth in, until smooth.  Return to the pot and add all other ingredients.  Heat through until hot, but not boiling.

Serve with chopped pecans and extra cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Taco Beef Stew

One of the things I like best about having bought a half cow is that I no longer have to eat ground beef every other day to keep the grocery costs down.  Yea, I love ground beef, too, but some variety is in order sometimes, you know?  So I play this new game now--I open the freezer door, jam my hand inside, and whatever comes out is what we're eating.  Really, that's a fun game, I swear it is.  You don't think that's fun?  Well, you're just dumb, then.

Ok, now there's a small problem with my little game.  I keep pulling out stewing meat.  Unlike ground beef (aka the most versatile meat in the universe), there's not a lot of fun things you can do with stewing beef....  Or is there?  Is it possible that I just haven't had the luxury of trying to figure out new and innovative things to do with stewing beef?  I think that's a challenge!  Challenge accepted, sir!

So last night, for my initiation into this little experiment, a little something familiar, a little something new.  There is nothing my family loves better than mexican flavours.  Think chili--and tacos.  Sure, I could have spent a half hour whipping up a batch of grain-free tortilla bread--but who wants that kind of make-work project?  This was stewing beef, as in, set it and forget it in the crockpot!

I love my crockpot.  There's an awful lot of stuff I can cook well with a crockpot, and certain food just lend themselves to the crock, don't they?  Like stewing beef.  So I've learned that when cooking in the crockpot, everything gets all moist (and watery) which isn't always what I want (unless I'm making stew, which I wasn't).  Enter tomato paste.  Universal thickener.  Problem solver.

Easiest recipe ever.

Does the spice blend look familiar?  It's the spice blend Mark Sisson suggests for tacos.  The best spice mix for tacos I've had so far, so I stick with it.  Its almost perfect.  I only add cayenne.

Serves 4-5


1 lb stewing beef or bison
1 5-oz can tomato paste
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
dash (or two) cayenne


In crockpot, mix tomato paste and all the spices.  Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours, or on high 4-5 hours.  Crockpot temperatures and times vary.  These are the times that work for my dinosaur crockpot.

Serve with chopped avocado, shredded lettuce, cheddar (if you eat cheese), hot sauce, salsa, whatever!  I served mine over paleo "grits", too.  Just because I had a lot of cauliflower in my fridge and not so much lettuce.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

My Back to Basics is sooooo over.

So my Back-to-Basics for the month of September has come to an end.

I've been thinking about this one for a couple of days, maybe a couple of days longer, in fact, since my Back-to-Basics actually came to an end on Friday September 28, when I showed up at Jonathan's place to take part in filming episode 3 of Big Primal where we prepared 200 wings and enough sweet potato fries to feed an army.  There was red wine.  And there were chicken wings dipped in melted chocolate (and bacon, of course there was bacon--Jonathan does nothing without bacon).  So hell, it was just too much fun to say no to.

So, what's the result of my...25 days of eating clean and easy?  Did I have any sudden health revelations?  Did I lose a load of weight?



Nothing really changed at all.

Isn't that a complete disappointment?  I know, I know--lunch bag letdown.

So, where'd I go wrong?  Well, I ate out once every week--of that, twice I had beef & broccoli at my favorite Hakka restaurant Federicks, and twice I had cajun rainbow trout on green beans at Marlowe's.  I stuck to primal choices.  For 25 days, I avoided alcohol and paleo "treats", I snacked on fat instead of carb-y foods, if I snacked at all.  I was ravenously hungry for 2 weeks and wanted to kill something.  Then I wasn't that hungry at all, the cravings subsided--until that hormone poison time rolled around again and I wanted to kill something once more.

Sure, you could argue there was room for improvement. (There is always room for improvement nomatter what they tell you).  But you'd also think that the absence of paleo cakes, cookies, stuffed dates and many, many glasses of wine would have made a huge difference.  Not so much, it turns out.  Ok, not at all.

So I'm left to draw 2 conclusions to this little experiment.

First, its that calories do count.  I did not cut calories.  I kept my fruit consumption to 2 servings a day, I kept my carb intake at a very reasonable low, but I substituted fat into my diet where I cut carbs out.

And secondly, I'm left to assume that this weight, all 128.5 lbs of me, is the way it was meant to be.  This is me, at 41, at 5'6", after 2 kids.  This is the way I am.  Some women are skinnier, some women are more muscular, some women are much heavier and would kill to weigh what I way.

This is just the way I am.

I can accept that.

Sure, I could beat myself up over it, I could eat less food, I could work out harder.  But I already try pretty hard.  I already eat a paleo diet and exercise and get 8 hours of sleep--anything more would just mean less time for what I love most--getting outside and just having fun with my life.  Because you only get to live this life once.

Do what you can to live as long and healthy of a life as you can.  But don't let all that healthy stuff so completely overwhelm you that you don't have the time and energy to enjoy the healthy body that you've tried so hard to create.  Know what I mean?  People sometimes forget that part.